Are you ready for RV living or the RV camping park experience? For many RV enthusiasts, the thought of spending a summer without regular weekend getaways sounds unbearable. But what’s the best way to make sure you can travel as much as you want without breaking the bank?
You’ve been dreaming of traveling the country in an RV for years. But you’re not sure where to start or how much it will cost.
Don’t become overwhelmed with the decision process. Picture this.
Imagine having your own RV that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. It has everything you need, including a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, and your favorite pillow – all in one vehicle.
With these valuable tips for buying an RV, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the freedom and adventure that comes with owning your own recreational vehicle. Do some research before purchasing an RV and owning one can be a dream come true.
Know Your Budget for an RV Camping Investment
It’s essential to know your budget when buying an RV. Purchasing a new vehicle can be expensive, so take time to ensure you can afford the model that fits your needs.
Before you start shopping for a recreational vehicle, establish a budget and make a list of essential features for YOUR needs. RVs can be expensive, so you’ll want to make sure you can afford the one you’re interested in.
It’s also important to remember other costs are associated with owning an RV, such as insurance, maintenance, and repairs. Be sure to factor those costs into your budget as well. Once you have a budget in mind, you’ll be able to narrow down your search and focus on finding the RV that’s right for you. And that’s when the fun begins!
How Will You Use Your RV?
Carefully consider how you will be using your RV. If you plan on using it mainly for camping trips, you’ll need one that’s sturdy and able to handle rough terrain. If you plan on using it for long-distance travel, you’ll seek out one that’s comfortable and has all the amenities you need, including ample storage compartments.
Choose the Right Size RV
When it comes to RVs, size does matter. Choose the RV that’s the right size for your needs. For occasional weekend trips, a smaller RV will suffice. But if you plan on traveling for long periods, you might need substantially more space.
It’s a balancing act to ensure your recreational vehicle is large enough for your needs but not so big that it becomes difficult to drive or park. Consider how many people will be traveling with you and ensure there is ample space for comfortable sleep, too.
Narrow your decision for size based on how you plan on using your RV.
Consider Your Towing Capacity
If you want to pull your RV behind a car or truck, verify that your vehicle can handle the weight. RVs can be very heavy, so double-check your vehicle’s appropriate towing capacity. You don’t want your tow-behind vehicle to be too heavy for your RV, as this will cause problems while driving.
Be sure that your RV can handle the additional weight and that you will be able to navigate effectively with the extended length.
For mountain enthusiasts, the RV must be able to navigate easily on elevated terrains such as those found in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Think About Vehicle Options and Amenities
When choosing an RV, think about amenities. Do you want one with a separate kitchen or just basic cooking elements? A full bathroom or an outdoor standing shower only?
Do you prefer a bedroom with a door or a couch that doubles as a bed in the main living area?
These preferences are crucial to selecting the right recreational vehicle for your needs.
Most motorhomes come with a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. They often have slide-outs for additional space when the vehicle is parked, making it easy for you to live in them long-term if desired.
Some modern motorhomes provide extra features, such as a washer and dryer, a living room, or a den. If these additional features are essential, narrow your search to motorhomes with appropriate amenities.
Due to space limitations, a smaller RV, such as a campervan or Class B motorhome, will likely have fewer standard features. You may need to compromise on having a full kitchen and opt for a mini-fridge, microwave, stovetop burners, and minimal storage. Kitchen tools such as a Ninja Foodie are a huge benefit while traveling. One-pot meals are much appreciated when it’s raining outdoors. These meals are super-convenient, but they also save time.
Check for RV Camping Reviews Online
When shopping for an RV, be sure to check for reviews online. This will give you a perspective on what other people thought about the RV models and help you determine which RVs are most suitable for your requirements.
Read as much as possible about the RV lifestyle to decide whether purchasing an RV is the right move for you. These sites give a good perspective on what to expect when you head out for the open trails.
What Kind of RV Should You Buy for Camping?
There are various types and styles of recreational vehicles available on the market. Some of the most popular ones are:
Class A Motorhome
Class A RVs are the largest and the most expensive, but they also have the space available to be luxurious. They come with many standard amenities, including a kitchen, bathroom, and several sleeping spaces. They’re perfect for long-term travel and can easily accommodate a family or group of friends.
The Class A driver will need to be skilled at driving a large vehicle, and everyone must help with watching for low limbs, size-restricted roads, and parking hazards. These units are generally 30 to 36 feet long and are built on a large commercial chassis with a V8 or V10 engine (gas or diesel). The driver will need to be comfortable maneuvering a “house on wheels” before taking to the open roads.
Class C Motorhome
A Class C motorhome is an excellent option for those who want all the amenities of a Class A RV but are willing to compromise on space to save money. These motorhomes include a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom and often have slide-outs for additional living space when the vehicle is parked. Class C is often preferred for long-term travel. These vehicles typically accommodate 2 to 5 people with ease and use less fuel than the Class A models.
At approximately 30 feet in length, a Class C provides ample space and will be less restrictive than Class A when navigating mountain roads near Chattanooga, Tennessee or the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Class B Motorhome
The Class B motorhome is smaller than the Class A and Class C units and is easier to drive because they are built on a commercial van chassis. Conveniences may include a full kitchen, flush toilet and shower, overhead air-conditioning, and television for entertainment. Like the larger motorhomes, Class B is fully self-contained.
These vehicles may have a hitch to tow a trailer or tiny vehicle but less towing capacity than the larger motorhome units. Class B van models may feature stability controls, front airbags, and other safety features. Also, consider that the engines are common, making them easier to service and easier to locate parts for repairs.
These are smaller than motorhomes and are more suited for camping trips. They typically come with a small kitchen and a bed and usually do not have a shower or toilet accommodations. The campervan owner may choose parks with favorable ratings for their in-park amenities, such as showers or bathhouses, laundry facilities, and fire pits.
These are perfect for people who want to camp but don’t want to give up all the amenities of home. Tent trailers come with just the essentials but may include a cooking station, refrigeration, a compact bathroom, or air conditioning. These “Pop-Up Tents” are an affordable option for many nature lovers.
Fifth wheels are a unique type of RV that is towed by a truck with a special hitch in the truck bed. They are larger than camper vans but generally smaller than motorhomes. These units come with full amenities such as a kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, and a separate bedroom.
If you’re looking for an RV with a bit of everything and ample towing capacity with your truck or larger SUV, then a fifth wheel may be an ideal solution.
Still not sure? Try out some RV model options using Outdoorsy.com to help with your purchase decision.
Consider Buying an Older RV to Save Money
When it’s time to pay for an RV, there are a few things you need to consider, including your budget. RVs can be expensive, but there are ways to save money. One way to do that is by considering an older RV. Older RVs can be found at a fraction of the cost of newer models.
An ecstatic owner of pre-owned camping equipment shared their experience of purchasing their first RV back in 2014. The chosen model, a Jayco Class C, proved to be a perfect fit. Despite being over a decade old, the unit had an impressively low mileage of less than 9,000 miles. Through an online search, a visit to the dealer, and a successful test drive, that first RV motorhome became their cherished ride for visiting RV campgrounds.
Ask Experienced RV Owners for Advice
When you’re looking for an RV, it can be helpful to talk to other RV owners. They can advise you on what to look for, avoid, and get the most benefits for your money. So don’t be afraid to ask around – you’ll likely get some great tips from people who know what they’re talking about.
Test Drive At Least Once
Be sure to test drive any RV before you buy it. Like with a car, you need to make sure the RV is comfortable to drive. If it’s not, then you’ll be unhappy with your purchase.
Drive on a highway and take turns to both the left and right to simulate how the machine moves in a real-world environment. Practice parallel parking and backing into designated spaces.
Purchase the Right Insurance for Your RV Lifestyle
RV repairs can be expensive, and if something happens while you’re on a road trip, it’s vital to have good RV insurance. Insurance will offset your financial outlay in case of accidents or damage to your RV. The right insurance policy will also provide financial relief after unfortunate circumstances like theft or vandalism.
If you are traveling in another country, include the appropriate insurance riders for international medical costs or legal fees.
There are many RV insurance policy options available, so be sure to shop around and find one that’s right for you.
Create a spreadsheet or tracker for a comparison of several options to choose the best solution for your situation. And don’t forget – insurance will provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered.
Shop Around for Your First RV
When shopping for an RV, shop around and compare prices at multiple dealership locations. You’ll want to find the best deal possible, and that’s not always easy to do. But by comparing prices, you may be surprised at what you discover in your search.
Not all RV dealers are willing to haggle, but it never hurts to ask. If you see an RV that you like, but the price is too high, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer if they’re willing to negotiate.
Some dealers will be ready to consider price adjustments, so it’s always worth a shot. And who knows – you may just get the perfect RV at a price within your budget.
Be Prepared to Walk Away
If you find yourself in a situation where the dealer isn’t willing to budge on price, don’t be afraid to (1) walk away or (2) define conditions to offset the price differential.
For instance, if the price is over your budget by a few thousand dollars, ask for new tires, a maintenance package, or a bundle of accessories to use on your first outing. These accessories may include lighting, lounge chairs, roll-back awning, etc. Some dealers may be able to accommodate your requests.
Look for Deals and Discounts
When buying an RV, watch for deals and discounts while doing your research. You can often find good deals on RVs if you buy them during the off-season or from a dealer clearing out their inventory.
Join an RV Club
RV Clubs will give you access to resources and a community of like-minded individuals. This is a great way to meet other RVers and learn from their experience. Club memberships can also provide you with access to resources, such as discounts on campgrounds and RV repairs.
However, not all RV clubs are created equal. Some clubs may be more focused on social activities, while others focus on providing resources.
Reading reviews about the RV lifestyle can help you decide whether or not an RV is right for you. These websites give a good perspective on what to expect when you head out for the open trails:
Family Motorcoach Association (FMCA) – This organization offers community information, discounts, and resources for travelers.
Good Sam – Known for roadside assistance, the Good Sam membership provides discounts and other benefits while you’re on the road, along with their optional roadside assistance membership. Similar to Outdoorsy.com, the Good Sam website provides rental units, which is a great way to try out different styles and models before buying.
Harvest Hosts – This organization is a network of wineries, farms, and tourist attractions. They offer overnight camping for RVers and the opportunity for campers to experience a bit of their daily living. The annual membership grants access to the list of participants in the network.
Have Fun and Embrace the Joy of RV Living
This is the most important tip of all. Buying an RV for weekend trips or to live it up during retirement should be a fun and exciting experience. Enjoy the process, and don’t let anything stress you out.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to find the RV that’s right for you. And don’t forget – the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make the right decision for you or your family. So, take your time, diligently do your research, and happy RVing!